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The Impact of COVID-19 on Supply Chains E-Book

Supply Chain

The impact of COVID-19 on supply chains:How it took a global pandemic to highlight their shortcomings


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on businesses globally. Overnight, organisations were forced to adapt the way they operate to respond to evolving demand and supply requirements. For many enterprises within the retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and manufacturing sectors, this meant needing to quickly adjust their supply chains to cater to changes in the types and quantity of products being bought by consumers, and actually ensuring they were available, as well as changes in overall purchasing habits with a huge shift to online retailing.

News reports from around the world highlighted a surge in demand for products such as pasta, tinned goods, and cleaning products while demand for toilet paper spiked by 845% in the United States and sales of flour increased by 92% in the United Kingdom in March. However, as demonstrated by the photographs of empty shelves that flooded the media, for many retail, CPG, and manufacturing businesses, quickly adapting and scaling to this demand proved difficult and at times impossible due to a lack of visibility and flexibility in their supply chains.

To gain a better understanding of the supply chain challenges facing these organisations and how COVID-19 worsened existing problems, InterSystems commissioned data analysts Vitreous World to survey more than 700 business leaders within retail, CPG, and manufacturing organisations globally. This insight will help to provide a way forward to ensure these enterprises are better able to cope with day-to-day operations in the ‘new normal’, as well as a giving them the ability to futureproof their business to respond to a rapidly changing landscape.

COVID-19’s impact puts spotlight on existing technology issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented one of the biggest commercial disruptions in recent history. However, issues in global supply chains already existed. The disruption caused by the pandemic only highlighted these, making businesses around the world address the problem far more quickly than ever anticipated. For more than three-quarters (76%) of retail, CPG, and manufacturing organisations, they even stated that the pandemic worsened their technology-specific supply chain challenges. Among these problems, respondents identified a lack of flexibility in existing processes as the most significant (44%), with this inflexibility hindering their ability to adapt to evolving situations and changing demand.

Additional challenges include:

  • Difficulty performing analytics to support the business (40%)
  • A lack of accurate end-to-end visibility and reporting (40%), and manual processes (40%) which require data manipulation and corrections
  • 36% said data silos and difficulty integrating and normalising disparate data, and 35% cited the lack of access to current data as among their top challenges.

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